World U.S. trade chief urges ASEAN envoy to visit Myanmar soon, promote dialogue
Myanmar's shadow government launches 'people's defensive war' against the military junta
Myanmar's shadow government has launched what it called a "people's defensive war" against the military junta, urging citizens across the country to revolt. © STR/AFP/Getty Images Protesters hold posters in support of the National Unity Government (NUG) during a demonstration against the military coup in Taunggyi, Shan state on May 2. In a video address posted on his official Facebook page on Tuesday, acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG) Duwa Lashi La called on militias and ethnic armed organizations to attack military forces.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to send its special envoy to visit Myanmar as soon as possible to promote dialogue, her office said on Tuesday, days after opponents of the country's military rulers declared a revolt.
The U.S. Trade Representative's office said Tai made the request during a virtual annual meeting with ASEAN economic ministers meeting on Monday.
Myanmar has sunk into chaos since a military junta seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, with rising deaths in daily protests, insurgencies in border regions and widespread strikes. An activist group counts more than 1,000 people killed by security forces and southeast Asian and western governments are urging all sides to refrain from violence after opponents to the junta last week declared a nationwide revolt.
Shots in the dark: China sends Covid aid to Myanmar rebels
Delivering vaccines to Myanmar's junta, but also to rebel groups that are the generals' sworn enemies, China is playing both sides to fight the coronavirus and strengthen its hand in the messy politics of its southern neighbour. Beijing has already handed over nearly 13 million doses to the generals, who ousted Aung San Suu Kyi in February and plunged Myanmar and its healthcare system into chaos. The junta has appeared powerless to halt the spread of the virus, spooking authorities on the other side of its porous, 2,000-kilometre frontier with China, where officials are waging a "zero case" war on Covid-19.
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ASEAN last month appointed Brunei's second minister for foreign affairs, Erywan Yusof, as special envoy to Myanmar, tasked with ending violence in Myanmar and opening dialogue between the military and its opponents.
"Ambassador Tai also expressed deep concern regarding the military coup in Burma and urged ASEAN’s Special Envoy to visit Burma as soon as possible to promote dialogue between all parties," the USTR said in a statement using the U.S. government's preferred name for Myanmar.
Tai, who chaired the meeting with Brunei's finance and economy minister, Amin Liew Abdullah, also said the Biden administration was committed to strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN trade and economic relationship and a regional trade and investment framework agreement.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Richard Chang)
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